By Kim O’Leary
A support group in Lucan set up for parents of children with verbal dyspraxia has hailed the great community for raising awareness and funding for communication boards.
Finding Charlie’s Voice is a support group set up by Evelyn Byrne, whose young son Charlie has Verbal Dyspraxia, a rare neurological speech sound disorder.
The condition also known as Childhood Apraxia of Speech is caused when the pathways between the brain and the mouth do not develop, which results in unintelligible speech.
There is little support unless privately for children and young adults with verbal dyspraxia, who require early, intensive and frequent speech therapy.
Mum-of-two Evelyn told Dublin Gazette: “Finding Charlie’s Voice was set up in May 2020. Charlie is seven and in senior infants and he’s at the heart of it, because we set up the support group to talk to and support other families going through what we have gone through. We wanted hope and needed to connect with other parents – developing a community and an outlet.”
According to Evelyn, her son Charlie has had only six speech sessions with the HSE since being referred in 2015.
“The lockdown has been difficult for everyone, but for children like Charlie learning online via Zoom is a struggle. They really need early intervention, like Charlie will not speak unless he has that intervention through speech therapy, but so many therapists have been redeployed to other areas due to Covid-19,” said Evelyn.
Latest HSE figures show that almost 45,000 children across Ireland are on waiting lists for speech and language assessments and therapy. More than 14,000 of these children have been waiting for more than 12 months for services.
Last month in conjunction with Lucan Harriers Athletic Club, Finding Charlie’s Voice ran a virtual race catering for all ages and abilities which was a great success with over €7,000 raised by over 1,000 participants.
Evelyn has hailed the “phenomenal” generosity and support from everyone in the Lucan community and beyond.
Evelyn and her fellow advocates are continuing to campaign locally, with the latest win seeing South Dublin County Council agree a motion to have communication boards installed in parks.